Chris Watt is in a favorable position to start at guard for the San Diego Chargers within the next two seasons, possibly sooner.
The 89th selection overall made 37 starts at left guard for the Notre Dame Fighting Irish and will be reunited with former teammate Manti Te'o. Mike Mayock described Watt as "one of the smartest and toughest offensive linemen in this draft."
He suffered a torn PCL and MCL that held him out the last two games of the 2013 season, but he could be in line for a starting job in his rookie year if the underlying reason behind this move is to replace overpaid veteran Jeromey Clary.
Clary will account for $6.25 million against the cap in 2014—the fourth-highest figure on the team next to Philip Rivers, Eric Weddle and Antonio Gates.
Originally a tackle when he was drafted by San Diego in the sixth round of the 2006 draft, Clary made the move to right guard with the arrival of 2013 first-round pick D.J. Fluker. Clary started all 15 of the games he played in during the regular season but was held out of the postseason matchup against the Denver Broncos due to injury.
In 2012, the offensive line surrendered 49 sacks with Clary at right tackle. The group last year, however, gave up just 30 with him converting to right guard. He was able to adjust to his new position, but his price may force San Diego to leave him out of the equation in next year's unit.
General manager Tom Telesco reworked three veteran contracts in the offseason: Dwight Freeney, Eddie Royal and Jarret Johnson's. Clary's contract was not one of them, but many could argue it should have been. The 30-year-old is entering the last year of his contract, but the acquisition of Watt could shake things up as far as his spot on the team.
If Watt can come into training camp recovered from the injuries to his knee and put forth a strong showing, he could potentially cost Clary his job.
Watt joins a group that includes left guard Chad Rinehart, center Nick Hardwick, right guard Jeromey Clary, reserve guard Johnnie Troutman and reserve center-guard Rich Ohrnberger. All five were on the 53-man roster in 2013, but with Watt, that can't be the case this season.
Watt locked down the left interior spot for Notre Dame the past three seasons and was a backup at right guard in 2010. If Clary's tenure in San Diego comes to an end, it's possible that Watt will be asked to move to the right side, as Chad Rinehart is still under contract for the next two years on the left.
Watt could also challenge Johnnie Troutman for a backup role. Troutman showed promise when he was asked to fill in for Rinehart, but he folded on the right side in the postseason against the Broncos.
Watt's emergence via a third-round pick isn't surprising, but it could cause ripples within the roster.
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